Thanks for your very insightful article published recently about your thoughts on Conscription in SA in the bad old apartheid years.
There is so much that people don’t talk about of the past, and yet everyone was affected in some way and most South Africans nowadays walk around with what Eckhart Tolle, the spiritual author, would call a “Pain Body” of painful experiences from the past.
And as you’ve mentioned, the hurtful legacy of our country’s past continues to make itself felt and pushes up people’s pain levels even further.
While there is no quick and easy way out of a traumatic past, it does help to get it out into the open.
Everyone has a story and I believe we should get our stories out and listen to one another. Just listen, and let the other speak. Don’t judge, don’t go on a guilt trip. Let’s just listen to each others’ stories and acknowledge how much pain most people have been through.
Then try to let go of the negativity. The past is the past. We’ve been stuck in it for too long. We need to free ourselves and move on with love, faith and hope.
I spent a month walking through Spain last year, and found the Spanish to have a similar tendency to suppress their traumatic past (the General Franco years of oppression and persecutory witch hunts against individuals, resulting in many “disappearances” and mass murders, many not resolved to this day). There is a lot of repressed anger and pain in the Spanish psyche. They do not talk about those times, but those times are still very much with them, despite a so-called Spanish “Pact of Forgetting”.
I am sure there are many more nations with a collective trauma in their past who are struggling to come to terms with the fall-out to this day.
Denying it happened, suppressing the trauma, numbing it away with alcohol and other addictions, acting out in rage and anger,or slumping into depression will never undo the pain. Recounting it, facing it and then letting it go will bring about healing.
EDITOR: Thanks Nina – the pain (and guilt) is easy to find lurking beneath my surface. Your reaching out helps us and (more selfishly) has helped me to understand and come to grips with the sorrow. I know a man whose older brother was one of the first killed on the border. As a result he never went to the army but had to suffer his parents anguish and loss as they questioned why their son was killed and ignored the younger alive son – to this day he is more messed up as some of us are who DID go to the army. I now understand the pain and rage that emotionally absent parents inflict upon their children.
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